Sarabjot Singh gave India a dream start at the ISSF World Cup in Bhopal, in front of a raucous home crowd, by earning a clean sweep 16-0 win over Ruslan Lunev of Azerbaijan in the gold medal match of the men’s 10m Air Pistol. This was the first event at the tournament, organised at the MP Shooting Academy Range, in which Varun Tomar also claimed a podium finish by winning the bronze medal.

Later on, China’a Li Xue won the women’s 10m Air Pistol while her compatriot Qian Wei won bronze, ensuring that both China and hosts India ended competition Day 1 with an identical medal tally.

Sarabjot on fire

Sarabjot, the 21-year-old two-time junior World Championship gold medallist, however was the toast of the day. The Ambala shooter first topped the 60-shot qualification round among the 24 medal contenders with a score of 585. In the 25-shot top eight ranking round, he topped again with a score of 253.2 before going on to register what was possibly the first ever blank-out of an opponent in an ISSF World Cup stage gold medal match. In fact, he shot a perfect 10.9 on the last shot of the match to secure the gold medal.

While Sarabjot was among the top three throughout the course of the ranking round, compatriot Tomar’s performance was rather inconsistent. At one stage it looked like it would be an all-India gold medal match, but he dropped towards the end to finish with a score of 250.3 to claim the bronze.

Sumit Raman, the third Indian in the field, shot 577 to finish 10th among medal contenders.

China dominate women’s air pistol

At the beginning of the final round of the women’s 10m Air Pistol, China risked losing out on medals on the day after two of their finalists in the men’s event, including reigning world champion Liu Jinyao finished fifth and sixth respectively. One of them, Zhang Jie, even missed taking his final shot in what was a bizarre moment in the final.

However, in the women’s event, the Chinese bounced back when Li Xue defeated two-time world championship medallist Doreen Veenekamp of Germany 17-5 in the gold medal match. Even here, their reigning world champion Lu Kaiman finished outside the medals but Qian Wei ensured they picked up two of the three medals on offer by finishing the ranking round with a score of 250.2.

Two other Indians in fray, Rhythm Sangwan and Manu Bhaker, shot scores of 572 and 568 in qualification to finish 10th and 12th respectively.

Competition Day 2

Thursday will see medals on offer in two more disciplines as teams will line-up for the air pistol and air rifle mixed events. While the 10m air pistol mixed team final begins at 12 noon, the 10m air rifle mixed team final is scheduled for 10:30 AM.

Shooting, ISSF World Cup in Bhopal: Here’s what you need to know about WC stage being held in India